Are we getting the exercise we need?

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Are We Getting The Exercise We NeedIt’s no secret that exercise is a big part of living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, some people would say it gets drummed into us far too often. But with the overwhelming evidence supporting the health benefits of regular exercise, it’s little wonder why exercise can reduce the risk of major illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% – significantly lowering your chance of a premature death.

So are we doing enough?

Apparently not. Our National Health Report revealed that, on average, we’re doing about 71 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week – that’s less than half our recommended amount of 150 minutes (2.5 hours).

So what parts of the country are people are getting the most exercise? Well, those from Yorkshire seem to do the most, with 15% exercising for more than 3.5 hours a week, exceeding their minimum weekly recommendations. Scotland isn’t far behind, with 13% also going above and beyond their exercise targets. This is in stark contrast to those from Wales, however, where 35% admit to exercising for less than 15 minutes per week. People from the south west and the north east aren’t much more active, with 32% of people admitting to doing no more than 15 minutes.

Exercise-wise, men fare better than women, with the average man doing 73 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week and 1.4 minutes building their muscular strength. Women spend slightly less time exercising on average, doing 69 minutes of cardio and 1.1 minutes on the weights per week. Irrespectively, it’s clear that we aren’t quite doing enough – especially when you consider that as well as aiming for 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week, the NHS also recommends that we spend about two sessions a week building our muscular strength.

Unfortunately, our shortcomings seem to be reflected in our BMIs, with six in ten of us falling outside of the healthy BMI bracket of 18.5-24.9. The average man currently weighs in at 26.2, whilst the average woman is has a BMI of 25.9. In fact, 38% of those in the UK have a BMI of 25-30.9, classing them as overweight. This is a worry when you consider that excess weight can put you at increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The fact that 29% of people in the UK underestimated their BMI also suggests that they felt they were healthier than they really are, making it seem less likely that this group will make steps toward becoming more active. 

Although these results paint quite an inactive picture of the UK as a whole, it isn’t as though we’re spending all our spare time lazing around in bed either. Unfortunately, sleep is something that we’re also lacking, with the average person sleeping for just 6.4 hours a night, despite their recommended rejuvenation time of seven to eight hours, which begs the question: could sleep deprivation be making it more difficult to motivate ourselves to exercise more?

In this modern age, we all have increasingly busy lives, but surely fitting in two or three hours of exercise a week is achievable? When you consider the health benefits to be reaped, it seems more than worth it.

Check back to the ‘Keeping Fit’ section of the site for more tips and advice on how to fit more exercise into your weekly regime.

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